Tips for Kitchen Remodeling on a Budget

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A full kitchen remodel can be quite costly, and will require extensive work. Old countertops need to be demolished and replaced with new, granite countertops. Sinks and old kitchen appliances need to be swapped for stainless steel, and kitchen tiles need to be torn out and replaced with marble.

Once you've finally finished estimating the cost for an entire kitchen overhaul, you may feel the sudden urge to cry. But, before you tear up that sheet of paper with the evil numbers, dollar signs and way too many zeros, take a good look at your kitchen. Think of the things you must have, the things you can live without, and the areas where you can come to a compromise. Once you've done that, and you feel confident you can accomplish your kitchen remodeling goals without spending the same amount it would cost to purchase a luxury car, read the tips below to get some ideas and tips for kitchen remodeling on a budget.

Budget Countertops

Remodeling your kitchen countertops is probably one of the most expensive and most difficult parts of the job. Ideally, you would love to replace the tiles with granite countertops, and maybe even install an island in your kitchen if you don't already have one, but this would all cost quite a bit of money. Here are some alternatives to a costly kitchen counter replacement:

  • Try laminate countertops instead of granite to save some money.
  • Solid surface countertops, like corian, are another alternative to expensive granite countertops.
  • Use granite on one area of the kitchen, and something more affordable, like laminate, in another part of the kitchen.
  • Granite overlays are a great alternative to a granite countertop, because they are much cheaper and install over your original countertop, so there is no need for demolishing.
  • A stainless kitchen sink is a great finishing touch for an updated countertop, and guess what? You can get a nice one for around $300 or less.
  • Instead of springing for a custom built kitchen island, try searching for a factory built one instead to cut your costs. A decent sized, factory built kitchen island can be purchased for under $1000, and some even come with a granite countertop.
Solid Counter

Solid Counter

Factory Built Island

Factory Built Island

Appliances on a Budget

A quick glance at your kitchen appliances tells you it's time for some upgrades, and as much as you love the turquoise refrigerator with the squeaky freezer door that gave it so much character, it's time to shell out some cash for a newer model. That turquoise would probably clash with the rest of the new kitchen theme, anyhow. Here are a few tips for buying kitchen appliances on a budget:

  • Look for Energy Star rated appliances to get more energy efficiency that can save you money on your utility bills over time. Plus, they're great for the environment.
  • Buy appliances that are stainless steel finished instead of completely stainless steel items.
  • Wait for store clearances and sales for big ticket purchases like refrigerators.
  • Find appliances with dents or dings that are being sold at a fraction of the original price.
  • Check garage sales, classified ads and online market places for used appliances.
  • Space out your purchases, there is no need to buy them all at once, especially if you already have old appliances that still work.

Remodeling the Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets can be quite pricey if you completely replace them. Instead, think of refinishing and resurfacing them for a new look. Here are a few more tips for remodeling your kitchen cabinets on a budget:

  • Give old cabinets a new look with a new paint job and an entirely different color.
  • Change out old handles with new ones to go with the new paint job.
  • Change the hardware on your cabinets like the swivels and hinges to give them a new look with added functionality.
Cabinet Paint

Restore old cabinets

Cabinet Handle

Install new handles and knobs on old cabinets

Walls for a Budget Kitchen Remodel

Adding new wallpaper or treating your old kitchen walls to a new paint job is a great way to make an old kitchen feel new on a tight budget. If you're willing to go a little further, try adding a new backsplash to your kitchen. If your kitchen already has a backsplash that matches your old countertops, replace them with a new set of tiles to match your new countertops. Backsplashes aren't very large, and would only require a limited number of tiles to complete a new look.

Kitchen Flooring Ideas on a Budget

You've grown accustomed to seeing marble tile flooring in upgraded kitchens, but they are expensive. For a cheaper alternative, try ceramic tile floors, which come in a variety of choices to suit your design needs. If you want another more affordable alternative to marble, don't forget about laminate flooring.

Another idea to revamp your kitchen flooring is to replace some of your old tiles with new ones of a different color or design. Interchanging new tiles and old tiles can create new design patterns for your floor. Think of making new borders, or using a couple of new tiles as accent tiles for your kitchen.

Lighting for Your Kitchen on a Budget

Don't underestimate the power of new lighting and light fixtures in your kitchen remodeling project. A new pendulum light hanging from the kitchen ceiling may be all it takes to transform an old, traditional kitchen into a modern style kitchen. New, energy efficient LED bulbs to replace your old ones can give your kitchen a whole new lighting effect. Dimmers and installing some additional lighting are also excellent ideas to create a new lighting scheme in your kitchen.

Be Creative

When approaching a kitchen remodeling job on a tight budget, it is important to be open to new ideas that are a little out of the ordinary. The harder you try to stick to the norms, the more money you'll end up spending. Take a chance, and be as creative as you possibly can. Smart shopping and planning, a little elbow grease and a lot of creativity will help you get the kitchen you've always wanted at a fraction of what it would cost if you took the normal route.

Last Updated: January 18, 2012
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About Matthew Cenzon Matthew Cenzon has been writing for numerous publications since 2003, covering topics ranging from health and nutrition to the real estate industry. He is one of the contributing writers for, and is a college graduate of the University of California, Riverside, with degrees in English and Asian literature. Matthew’s interest in interior design and home improvement stem from his background working in the residential real estate appraisal business for over five years, where he witnessed many of the Do's and Don'ts of home decor.

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